A PETITION has already begun protesting against planned new upgrades for the M60 at Simister Island - amid concerns a 10-lane highway would be "a disaster".

Earlier today the Bury Times reported that blueprints had been drawn up to create a loop road, enabling direct access between the eastbound and southbound sections of the motorway.

And the possibility of eliminating the hard shoulder and creating a five-lane carriageway in each direction has also been suggested by Highways England.

But Liberal Democrat campaigners in Prestwich fear the plans will only lead to a 'mega-junction' being established at Simister.

Cllr Steve Wright, who represents the area, said: "A 10-lane motorway running between Prestwich and Whitefield would be a disaster for the local area, as would a ‘mega-junction’ at Simister island.

"We already suffer from high levels of air pollution, with people’s homes and schools extremely close to what is proposed as a 10-lane motorway.

"Everyone knows the the M60 is congested, but the answer is surely not to build yet more motorways.

"Imagine how much £340 million invested in better public transport and safer streets could achieve.

"The decrease in road traffic during the lock-down has shown the benefits of less air pollution and noise. It seems crazy that the the Government is now proposing bigger motorways. We will be fighting this all the way."

He has confirmed that a petition to fight the proposals has been set up at www.loveprestwich.com, the party's community website.

Further proposals being put forward as part of the consultation include creating a new two-lane link road for drivers travelling from the northbound to the westbound stretches of the M60 at Simister Island, as well as a new link road from the eastbound M60 onto the northbound M66.

Announcing the plans, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the scheme was "a step forward in making the M60 easier to use, less confusing and more efficient for drivers.

“I welcome this vital improvement which has the potential to cut journey times, improve reliability and boost businesses in the North.”

Peter Molyneux, Major Roads Director at Transport for the North, said: "Simister Island is a well-known anomaly in the area which causes delay and disruption for thousands of vehicles every day."

Public consultation exercises are now taking place ahead of an expected announcement on the final proposals this winter.